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The BJP today is a symbol of misgovernance

The ruling party’s practice of toxic politics poses a threat to the soul of India

analysis Updated: Jul 03, 2018 15:05 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a gathering in Uttar Pradesh. The PM, who likes to tweet, has been silent on lynchings, which have continued unabated since the 2015 murder of Mohammad Ikhlaq. (PTI)

The BJP propaganda machine, ably assisted by its army of spokespersons and Twitter trolls, would have us believe that the nation never received a fortune greater than the NDA government that came to power in 2014, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But for four years now, we have a government that has claimed to promote politics of development, while betraying its real intentions. We have watched how democratically elected governments have been subverted, mandates disregarded and federalism perverted. Self-interest has been the cornerstone of the government; a politics devoid of any principles its hallmark. The architecture of political opportunism that the BJP has built has been abused to subvert every democratic principle that they supposedly stand for — misuse of State power to weaken institutions, vicious politics to discredit the Opposition, and lofty claims about their schemes’ success, abandoning allies when convenient, and their most widely used weapon: maintaining silence when expedient.

Silence has been the most favoured weapon in the BJP’s arsenal. The PM, who likes to tweet, has been silent on lynchings, which have continued unabated since the 2015 murder of Mohammad Ikhlaq. In Hapur (Uttar Pradesh), we witnessed the assault on two men on “rumours” of cow slaughter; in Karbi-Anglong (Assam), two men were lynched on suspicion of child lifting; violence gripped parts of Bihar and West Bengal during Ram Navami. The BJP’s failure to take action against the perpetrators of such crimes has spawned an army of murderous mobs, who don’t care for the rule of law. The polarisation is fast reaching a point of no return and does not bode well for our nation. Why has the BJP failed to issue a warning to those who spread hatred? Why did not a single colleague of Sushma Swaraj stand up for her when she was attacked by trolls for doing her job? Is it a coincidence that many of these trolls are “blessed to be followed” by the PM and other senior ministers?

For a government that constantly talks about “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” (BBBP), their double standards are shameful. A report by the Thomson Reuters Foundation has ranked India as the most unsafe country for women. A BJP MLA from Unnao is himself a rape accused, while former BJP ministers participated in a rally in support of the Kathua rape accused. A CAG report on the BBBP programme has found that the lack of policy implementation, diversion of funds and a weak monitoring mechanism have led to a fall in sex ratio at birth in various districts of Haryana and Punjab, as of 2015.

This government has also repeatedly failed to safeguard interests of the SCs/STs, whether by allowing dilution of the Prevention of Atrocities against SC/ST Act, or the recurring incidents of violence against Dalits and tribals. In Madhya Pradesh, a group of men poured kerosene on a Dalit farmer and set him on fire after a land dispute (one of the accused was a BJP OBC cell worker). Last week, a report by a Dalit women’s collective said as many as 33% of SC women faced physical violence since they were 15, while 26% of ST women faced violence, made worse by the lack of legal recourse and nexus among authorities, who protect perpetrators of these crimes. The Centre may like to pass the buck of law and order on to states, but the fact remains that the BJP-ruled states lead the pack when it comes to violence against women, Dalits, tribals and other weak groups.

This tendency to abandon responsibility when the going gets tough is not new to the BJP. Consider Jammu and Kashmir, where it came together with the PDP, disregarding the popular mandate. The alliance was a mismatch from the outset. Yet, they continued. A wounded Valley that needed confidence-building measures found itself on the receiving end of the BJP’s muscular policy, leading to violence. The 2003 ceasefire agreement with Pakistan is in a shambles. The BJP-PDP alliance never grew into a credible government. And now, the BJP with its eye on polls has abandoned the state, and with it, any moral and political leadership it claimed. AB Vajpayee’s ‘insaniyat, Kashmiriyat, jamhuriyat’, invoked a couple of years ago by the PM, lies forgotten.

The BJP’s opportunism and hypocrisy have also led to a trust deficit in the NDA coalition. Their dominating and deceitful approach to non-BJP states also affects the spirit of cooperative federalism. Our foreign relations and economy also stand crippled. Pressing issues of rising unemployment, women’s safety, autonomy in the functioning of state institutions, national security, and the rising dissatisfaction among stakeholders in the NDA alliance is coming to haunt the BJP-led government as its tenure is coming to an end.

The BJP is now a symbol of misgovernance. Today, as our wounded nation seeks peace, BJP members are intent on wilfully misinterpreting the Constitution for political gains. In 71 years of its existence, India has never seen days so dark, where caste, religion, gender have been abused to drive animosity, justified outrageous acts, and drown out any sense of nationhood. Economic progress is worthless without the enrichment of the soul.

Today, the BJP’s practice of toxic politics poses a threat to the soul of India.

Jyotiraditya Scindia is the chief whip of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha and former Union Minister

The views expressed are personal

First Published: Jul 03, 2018 15:04 IST